Aonui is working with Conqa!
Stuff article of 6/2/2020 reported on this Kiwi tech company on a growth path in the Australasian construction industry.
Local company Conqa is one of 12 companies from 180 applicants worldwide to be selected for a special growth and innovation programme in Australia where it will be connected with and mentored by large construction industry and real estate players. Its co-founders are from left Peter Simons, Barney Chunn and Daniel O’Donoghue.
Three Kiwi millennials striving to make a mark in the construction and real estate technology market have won a place on a special Australian growth programme.
The three friends Daniel O’Donoghue, Peter Simons and Barney Chunn formed their company Conqa in 2015 to develop and sell new software that made the notoriously difficult quality assurance processes in the construction industry a whole lot easier.
The aim of quality assurance is to maintain control and quality in producing products and services and at present the construction industry’s reputation on this is challenged.Conqa had digitised the quality control process so construction companies and contractors could produce well-documented and better work, O’Donoghue said.Five years on, they have 30 staff in Auckland and Melbourne and 300 clients and annual revenue “in the millions”.
Some of their clients include construction company Hawkins, retirement village developer and operator Ryman Healthcare, developers Ganellen and steel products supplier Steel & Tube.
They are now in Australia, thrilled to be one of 12 companies, of 180 who applied worldwide, to take part in a five-month innovation and growth programme founded and run by Taronga Ventures which helps companies in the real estate and building sector achieve sustained growth.
Conqa was the only Kiwi company selected for the RealTechX programme.
O’Donoghue said being part of the programme would expose and connect Conqa to some of the largest property developers and real estate players in Australasia and that was worth its weight in gold for a relatively young company.
Those companies included big names like Lendlease, Dexus, Australian Unity and PGIM Real Estate and they would be supporting the 12 businesses on the programme to develop solutions to current and future problems in the industry.
Taronga would also make a small investment in the company.
This coming year was about growing more deeply in the Australian market and understanding how they could do that. The RealTechX programme would help the company decide its priorities.
Towards the end of this year they were aiming to “beachhead” in Singapore and also the United States or the United Kingdom.
The quality assurance process in construction was very cumbersome while the construction industry was one of the least digitised industries in the world and had one of the lowest productivity rates so there was a lot of opportunity there.
They researched the idea of developing the QA software for a year talking to hundreds of people like engineers, project managers, subcontractors and tradies about the process and they had a lot of direct input into developing the software
“Everyone wins when the tradies get it right,” O’Donoghue said.
Surprisingly none of the trio had any construction or IT experience when they started out. O’Donoghue trained as a mechanical engineer, Simons as an electrical engineer and Chunn studied philosophy and English.
They decided they wanted to find a problem that could be solved by software and first became aware of the difficulty of the QA process in construction from engineer friends who “hated” having to do it.
The scale of the problem was quite significant so the opportunity it offered was substantial.
Luckily the company had early support and investment from Northlander and Vista International Group co-founder Murray Holdaway, introduced through a family friend. Vista develops and provides software and technology for the global film industry.
O’Donoghue said working in the corporate world did not really appeal to the three after they finished their university training. At the same time they were in their mid twenties, a good time to take on an ambitious project, when they had no responsibilities like a family and mortgages.
Conqa had developed to a stage where they could pay themselves comfortable salaries. They were driven on by the goal of having a large and positive impact on the construction industry, O’Donoghue said.
The long term pay off would be if they sold the business at a later stage. That was the common path for tech businesses.